It doesn’t surprise me that Leo Woodall booked One Day with cowabunga still tattooed on his neck.
The 27-year-old Londoner first gained notoriety (and a girlfriend) for playing the half-hot, half-terrifying Essex scammer on the second season of The White Lotus. While Jack’s most romantic gesture involved not murdering everyone’s favorite harried personal assistant, Woodall steps up his heartthrob game for the upcoming Netflix adaptation of David Nicholls’ best-selling romance, One Day.
Each chapter of the decades-spanning love story checks in on aimless posh boy Dexter Mayhew (Woodall) and disillusioned go-getter Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) on the same day from 1988 to 2007. For much of the series, Dexter represents everything Emma is meant to despise, from his privileged ignorance and fuckboy antics to his ridiculous television career as a pseudo Carson Daly circa 1998.
And yet at nearly every turn, Dexter draws Emma back into his orbit with disarming vulnerability and effervescent charm—a feat few could pull off as well as Woodall, who embodies the essence of a ’90s Hugh Grant protagonist. “We both have confidence and boyishness but inside are big softies,” Woodall said of his connection with Dexter during a Zoom conversation with Glamour.
So no, a temporary neck tattoo wasn’t enough to scare off One Day producers when he flew into his London auditions amid filming the HBO Max series in Sicily—and it clearly didn’t bother his White Lotus costar Meghann Fahy too much, either.
Both actors have remained pretty coy about their alleged off-camera romance when speaking with the press, though they don’t tamp down their PDA for the cameras. In November 2023, Woodall basically confirmed their relationship status to British Vogue when asked about his skills in the boyfriend department, replying, “You’ll have to ask Meghann.”
I was not able to follow up on that question with the Bold Type star, but I can tell you he passes TikTok’s orange peel test. For Glamour’s latest edition of Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, Leo Woodall revealed his thoughts on the viral relationship theory, the truth about Hollywood parties, and that big One Day gut punch. Warning: There’s a major One Day spoiler ahead, but it’s nothing that didn’t already traumatize book lovers and Anne Hathaway fans 13 years ago…
Glamour: Before we jump into things we don’t know about you, can you tell me how this role came about?
Leo Woodall: Many, many auditions. They really put me through the wringer. I was filming White Lotus when this audition process was happening, so I’d fly back to London [from Italy]. It was just a series of auditions ,and there was a chemistry read with Ambika. Yeah, so it was a standard process but it was also quite tough.
So they didn’t see you in White Lotus and think, We need to get this guy in a romance?
I walked into that room and I still had my “cowabunga” tattoo on there. So they were a little bit shocked to see that, and they didn’t realize that’s what was happening. But thankfully they were able to discover that it wasn’t real.
The creator of White Lotus, Mike White, has hinted that the show may not be done with the story of Tanya’s (Jennifer Coolidge) death and Greg’s (Jon Gries) involvement. Would you be down to return in the future?
Would I? In a heartbeat, yeah. I think there’s more to Jack’s story.
Tell me something I don’t know about your chemistry read with Ambika.
We were both in the office for a good few hours because we were both meeting other people. But she’s so funny, and just like, kind of calm and collected. It was really refreshing. When we both got the roles, we decided to meet up and chat for a bit. We went to Southbank and got a gin and tonic. And yeah, just kind of got to know each other a bit more. And then by the time we were filming, we felt comfy with each other, which was great.
How long was that period between getting the role and filming?
Well, I got the role months before we started filming, maybe two months. But I was in Sicily, and I finished White Lotus at the end of June or beginning of June . So we met up somewhere in June.
How familiar were you with One Day, either the original book or the 2011 film starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess?
I wasn’t that familiar with the book when I first got the first audition, but I watched the movie as prep, just to get an idea of the story. And then, when the audition process continued, I started reading the book. I’m a bit of a slow reader, so I did have to start doing the Audible. [Laughs.] Yeah, so by the time I was doing my final audition, which was including new scenes from the final episode, I was caught up.
So you found out about Emma’s death while watching the movie?
Yeah, yah-yah-yah-yeah. I wasn’t expecting it but it made it much—it made it painful in a different way when I was reading it.
What was your reaction?
It was weird because I was in a lot of pain because I had slipped a disc in my back. So I was like waddling around everywhere. And I just remember my jaw dropping and being very, very shocked. And very, very sad about it. When I started to get closer to the role, I felt even more when, you know, when I was reading it because there’s a beautiful line that kind of ends her life.
And it just says, “And Emma Morley dies,” and it’s—[Woodall’s breath hitches]—ugh, I’m kind of feeling it just now. It’s very painful.
How did you slip your disk?
It’s a long story but I did it years ago. I was on a plane from LA to Sydney [in 2019]. And we hit turbulence and the plane dropped like 100 feet, three times. And the first time, I was asleep, and my seatbelt was undone. So I woke up midair. And like, everyone was screaming, and I didn’t fully feel it.
You always felt a little bit like crappy when you get off a long flight but it was only when I got to the hotel and I was really struggling to breathe. I went down to the hotel desk and I said to them, like, “I’m really struggling—something’s very wrong.” And they said they were going to call a masseuse for me. It was like midnight. So I went back to my room—I’d been given some painkillers—and I fell asleep. And then I woke up to like, four hotel staff over my bed, because they’d obviously been calling my room to say the masseuse had arrived and I didn’t answer because I was fast asleep. And they came to my door, they knocked…nothing. And they were like, “Oh, my God, this kid has just died in our hotel. And we’re gonna have to go in.” And they shook me awake.
And so that’s how I did it the first time. Then last year—it was born out of the last time—it was literally just doing lunges. I just did a big lunge with a big weight. I think I was training for White Lotus.
Tell me about the last time you cried. Once this series comes out, I bet many people would say, “While watching One Day.”
Oh, man. Honestly, it might have been when I last watched it.
Tell me about playing a character in their 30s when you’re still in your 20s. I was thinking about this when Dexter was discussing his misspent youth with Emma in episode five.
I feel like there are a few things you can’t get away with [in your 30s] that you can get away with in your early 20s, which is kind of what he’s talking about. But you know, I think both me and Ambika realized that you don’t really change that much. Things change in your life and things can happen, but your kind of big development stage has already happened, so you're not that different in the 30s and you are maybe in your late 20s.
So you’re not feeling any nerves heading into your 30s?
Nah. I hear 30s is the best decade.
What’s something I don’t know about making it in Hollywood.
A lot of the parties that you suddenly get invited to really aren’t that fun.
Do you duck out early, or have you stopped going altogether?
No, I don’t go to all of them, but there are some fun bits and you do meet people that you like. But I hate having to do chit-chat when there’s really loud music. I don’t know how people still go to clubs and meet people. If I can’t even hear myself, I’m gonna only be talking gibberish. So a lot of times it’s good to just go with someone you know, someone you love.
Tell me something I don’t know about your social media habits. Are you a lurker? Do you see thirst tweets?
All I do when I go on Instagram is watch videos of people making incredible sandwiches. I basically just scroll through reels and a lot of it is dogs, sandwiches, or football.
Have you ever heard that trick of like—you know when a sandwich is square and it’s cut into two triangles? If you take off two bits of the triangle and just leave the filling and then like put them together, you get like the whole sandwich minus two bits of bread.
But how do you fit it in your mouth?
You make it fit. Give it a squish.
It’s like Scooby Doo.
It’s incredible. You have the sandwich but with half the bread. It’s great.
Speaking of social media, there was a moment in One Day episode four when Dexter hands Emma a peeled orange. It sounds like you’re not on TikTok, but there’s something called the orange-peel theory, which people are using to test their relationships—
Oh, the “would you peel my orange” thing? Yeah, I’ve only recently been introduced to that.
How do you feel about the orange-peel theory? Is it sound?
The theory being, if your partner doesn’t peel your orange then they’re not your soulmate? Yeah. I don’t know if it’s as deep as peeling an orange, but I’d peel an orange for my partner, sure.
Originally Appeared on Glamour